For our first blog we thought it only right to kick off with a topic close to my heart. I find myself often pondering this question and wonder what it means for the health and wellbeing of humanity.
So, we are all well aware of the unstable governmental platforms globally. The current stresses and strains this places on our ability to have a so called "work-life balance" becomes increasingly more difficult. At the same time, we are still being overly influenced by society to do more, be more, and, only then, can we deem ourselves worthy enough to come up for air and have a moment to feel that we are doing "OK" and are in some basic way able to acknowledge ourselves.
This struggle to accept ourselves fully in any given moment gets repeatedly jeopardised by the constant promotion of competition in society. We are so heavily influenced by the media to compare ourselves with those around us and it is paralysing. Our opportunity to be the best possible version of ourselves in the world rather that pursing some unrealistic ideal gets lost and what we are now facing is endless diary filling of more work or extra curricular activity. The purpose of this is mainly to demonstrate to the world how well we are doing and gaining some social status of "achieving" which ultimately signals that all is well, or is it?
Whilst technology advances are pretty cool and help us to do many things, it also has a sh*t load of unintended consequences. On one hand, we have the world wide web at out finger tips which is mind blowing when you think about it. On the other hand, the impact of constant exposure is creating and maintaining various health difficulties including sleep difficulties, indecision, loneliness (despite a jam packed diary) lack of concentration, lack of confidence and self worth. In many cases this can lead to Anxiety, Depression and interpersonal difficulties which impacts one's ability to feel a sense of connection and life purpose.
So when is enough "good enough" ? When do we step off this hamster wheel of productivity and give ourselves permission to slowly start to reconnect and re-evaluate what really is important to us? How do we find the space to draw on our courage and wisdom to commit to self-care and compassion? I am convinced of the effectiveness of slowing down. Taking time to gently take each moment for each moment alone as we go about our day. I will be less productive I hear you say! Actually, the more we can practice being present from one moment to another we are improving our ability to be connected to ourselves more fully.
Irrespective of your views on Mindfulness and Compassion these are the core practices that will sustain and help us to courageously slow down and live in the here and now. Obviously, not just being present for the sake of being present, this is where the compassion skills come into play. We need this stuff to help stay open hearted and connected in this often cruel and self-critically fuelled world we live in. We do not need to sit cross legged by an altar to practice this stuff. I would argue that this is the art of a healthy balanced approach to modern day living. It is a commitment and a practice we cannot perfect. Surely, we are worth the simple intention of doing one task at a time, slowing down as we face a busy schedule or even taking stuff out of our diary to really embrace the uncertainty of experience or getting to know what it is like to doing nothing and just enjoy the practice of just sitting and breathing.
I hope as you read this you might be considering making some changes to your daily routine and schedule. Maybe have that bath or chat with a loved one that you have been putting off. A wise man once said "we do not have the time to rush". Slowing down may be the only time we can accurately contact with our life purpose and goals. Checking in with ourselves about what is our true intention in any given moment can offer us the space to pause and then take action in the most full filling way possible.
The key thing to remember is that no matter what habits we fall into as a means of survival, that it is not our fault. We do not wake up and think "today, I plan to worry most of the day and be really distressed so that I cannot sleep". Some ways of coping have served us to this moment in time. How about we let go of the judgement and take responsibility to assertively take action in taking care of getting our needs met? This is within our control, this is something we can do to look after ourselves. After all, we are worth it and deserve to be happy. Changing our relationship with moments of distress or uncomfortable experiences is paramount. We cannot be willing to have all the happy life moments and not the upsetting or unpleasant ones. Busy mode stops our ability to self-sooth and regulate how we are feeling.
Next time you find yourself rushing around, pause and check in with yourself if your current or planned actions are something your future self will thank you for. And remember, in each moment there is an opportunity even just to sit and enjoy the gift of sitting and breathing. Be that source of self-care and self love to assist you in doing the things that really are important and letting go of what is not. Taking care of our needs in such ways activate our parasympathetic part of our nervous system which is linked to our self-soothing capacity, feelings of calm and safety. Our sympathetic part of our nervous system is linked to our stress mode and fight or flight arousal. Using basic mindfulness and compassion focused tools to reduce this unpleasant arousal is ace and it has lots of direct physical, psychological and emotional benefits. We have the amazing ability to learn and do this stuff.
I appreciate your office (or home space) may not look like this picture below however, consider taking time to contact momentary inner rest and calm in your breathing this week even if it is just for a few seconds at at time.